Working the dream

A couple retires, buys a RV, and takes to the road, planning to spend time with children and grandchildren and explore the highways and byways of their country.

A woman fulfills a lifelong dream of moving to Europe, which among other things gives her easier access to the opera performances so important to her.

Another woman spends two years without a permanent address, reinvents her career, and moves to Florence, a city she fell in love with years ago.

People say to all of them ‘you’re living the dream,’ and while it’s true that each of them is living their dream, they are also ‘working the dream.’

The couple with the RV—that’s my sister and brother-in-law. To get to where they are now, they sold the house they had built and lived in for almost two decades, distributed or donated much of their household goods, and put the rest in storage. That was hard for them to do—so many memories—but it was necessary to make this new way of life possible. Then, just as they started on this new way of life,  my brother-in-law had to have serious and unanticipated surgery, which resulted in my sister doing all of the work of the RV for several weeks, including driving. I’ve helped move that car tow dolly and it ain’t easy.

The woman who moved to Europe several years—that’s one of my best friends. From the beginning, she’s heard comments about ‘living the dream’ and ‘I wish I could do what you are doing.’ It’s not that she isn’t living her dream, but I’ve seen how much courage it took to leave behind all that was familiar and move first to one country, then another. It wasn’t just the language that was different but the culture. She’s dealt with the challenges of bureaucracy (no small feat, trust me), driving, and most recently, having surgery. The latter is hard enough when you’re doing it in your native language and culture.

Many people have stories like these, whether the dream is buying a house, having children, or landing the job that makes you feel like you’re being paid to eat ice cream. No matter what your dream is, I daresay you’ve had those moments when you were ‘working the dream,’ not living it. Whether it was the hot water heater breaking your first winter in the new house or walking the floors at night with a colicky baby, you know it’s not always easy or as wonderful as it looks from the outside.

I know, because the woman who moved to Florence—that’s me. Believe me, I am grateful every day for the beauty which surrounds me and I appreciate the adventure of living in a foreign country, but there are challenges. I gave up a lot of security, financial and otherwise, to do this and that’s been scary. It’s also hard being so far away from my family and friends, adjusting to a different way of life, and trying to learn a new language.

However, I balance the scary and hard moments with moments like one that occurred this summer. One night, an American friend who bought a house in the village of Porciano invited her neighbors and the resident ex-pats for dessert and wine. One of her Italian friends and a few of the villagers started singing songs in Italian as we sat on her small terrace on a gorgeous summer night—clear, lots of stars, not too hot. Smiles, conversation, and laughter abounded. My friend Catherine leaned over and said, ‘isn’t this like being in a movie?’  And it was—one of those lovely moments that bring tears to one’s eyes.

May you have equally lovely moments as you follow your dreams.

6 thoughts on “Working the dream

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